This is a two part series about sticky situations in the workplace.
Let me define each one:
- Illegal activity in the workplace.
- Sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Illegal activity: stealing, fraud, working without proper licensure and anything obviously against the law.
- Sexual harassment: Sexual remarks, inappropriate behavior, or management’s response to complaints of inappropriate remarks or behavior.
This is not a lesson in law or exactly what to do in every situation. However, it may give a proper perspective of what is at stake for you, management and the client. Which in turn may help you to decide what is best in your situation. We all assume that when we see something wrong in the workplace that management wants to hear about it. At least that is what they have told us in our initial interview. However their hands may be tied and you may be surprised at their reaction after you have reported such an incident. Many years ago I worked as a fitness center as an independent massage therapist. In my state, we are required to have a license and an establishment license for the office. The facility was brand new. After the first year of hard work I had established a pretty good clientele. Then they added an independent esthetician. In lieu of rent we gave a percentage of our earnings to the fitness center. This required an honor system on our part. One day a client called me on the phone and informed me that the esthetician was offering massage services in her office by from an outside massage therapist that had no establishment license to work on the premises. Hmmmm….I went to management and informed them of the situation. To my surprise they didn’t seem to find this a problem as they assumed they were receiving their percentage from the income. And it was deemed as hearsay as they had no first-hand proof that it was even occurring. This put me in a very awkward position and now required me to offer up proof. I asked someone to call her and ask for a massage and then confirm it with management. Even that was not conclusive enough. Then I was asked to talk to her directly. The confrontation did not go well. She started yelling and threatening me while blocking my exit. I escaped but was shaken and realized, that criminal behavior usually will begat more criminal behavior. Hello? Now my nightmare had begun. Working in the same facility with an emboldened criminal. To my horrification, nobody seemed to care and in the end I had no choice but to leave. A month later accounting caught that she wasn’t reporting all her earnings and it was then she was asked to leave. After I heard, I asked for my job back and the answer was, “No”. They wanted to hire another therapist and take a higher percentage. The clientele had been built up and now was opportunity to take advantage to the situation. I did not see that coming and the whole thing blew up in my face! If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would have reported the activity anonymously and stayed out of harms way.